Adventures in Academia: The Power of Racial Politics

Once upon a time, I loved to teach. I still love the concept of teaching. I always love my students. I have taught G.E. courses (critical thinking, argumentation, and debate in oral and written form) at San Jose State University for 20 years. I believe in multiculturalism. I believe in pluralism. I believe in equality. I believe that peaceful co-existence is desirable and attainable in a pluralistic society. I believe in human rights.






But my convictions and individualism have become secondary due to transformative identity politics on university campuses. According to academia's sectarian ideology, white people have been redefined and identified as an innately racist group. Thus, my "white privilege" has given me an unfair advantage over people of color. And, "whitesplaining" describes white people who define or explain racism to people of color---meaning white people are no longer credible sources for discussions of racism---other than when they commit racist acts.



Furthermore, critical theories propose that people of color are incapable of racism; this evil is for Whites only. "Prejudice," not "racism," is the new word to describe acrimony and hostility toward white people. Finally, the idea of "white supremacy" (not the white sheet hooded kind) has been re-conceived as institutions run by white people---thus these institutions must be quickly dismantled.




For years, I've tried to atone for my "white sins" in humble penance. Academia, however, continually raises the bar. Each academic year ushers in new written and unwritten speech codes demanding increasing hyper-sensitivity and vigilance. Consequently, I must religiously censor my own "white and heteronormative" speech and that of my "non-marginalized" students in order to appease the latest sectarian edicts. (Incidentally, San Jose State's student body has no racial majority.)

I am not alone in my fear. The Atlantic recently published a piece entitled, "The Chilling Effect of Fear on College Campuses." I quote, "The question is not how many professors have been fired for their beliefs, but how many think they might be."  Below is the full article:

http://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2016/06/the-chilling-effect-of-fear/486338/?utm_source=atlt



Claiming to be racially color blind is to be racist. And if you're white, don't try to defend yourself against accusations of racism. It's already been decided: You're racist. And there's no redemption. (At least I'm not male; otherwise I'd be redefined as inherently sexist. Still, as a heterosexual, I am inherently "cissexist": A person who identifies with the genitals he or she was born with. Therefore, I enjoy "heteronormative privilege" unlike oppressed transgender people. But that's a topic for another post.)


Call me a heretic. Call me a rebel. Call me a bigot. Call me racist for claiming that racism is being propagated to stop racism; but I'm no longer willing to work and teach in a state of constant fear and anxiety. Identity politics has sucked my joy out of teaching. And since I'm basically a "racist" by default, then what have I got to lose by speaking out? Besides my job? I'm retiring soon anyway. Regardless, I refuse to stay silent any longer. Increasing numbers of faculty (myself now included) around the nation are beginning to speak up and push back as academic and campus censorship increasingly tightens its vise like grip around the neck of free speech and intellectual diversity. Regardless of potential criticism, I'm standing up and sounding the alarm to those outside of academia. I'm going to start talking about the racial politics and intimidation on college campuses. And this post is a good place to start.


Wanna try teaching argumentation and critical thinking in this type of working environment? Wanna try leading a discussion about controversial issues? Wanna try proposing various sides of an argument when students claim there is no other side?
There's more. A new facet of racism and bigotry has become part of the political and social lexicon. It's called "microaggressions." Not familiar with this word? See chart below:


Here's another one:


Need more examples? This is from Rutgers University:


and


Left-leaning New York Mayor Bloomberg echoes my concerns regarding microaggressions and safe spaces and their impact on intellectual diversity and speech. Below is part of his commencement speech at Purdue University last month. Notice how some students applaud and some booed his comments:

Will you embark on a journey with me into the hallowed binary halls of academia? Walk with me, dear readers, and I'll further illustrate how academia's political sectarianism has turned social justice into a religion. I don't know how many professors I'm speaking for in this post, but I do know I speak for a growing number---despite our fear of repercussions from speaking publicly. (Update: Since I've written this post, I've received lots of positive private feedback from teachers in various kinds of teaching positions.) 

Over the years, I've twisted myself into endless knots in attempts to comply with multiculturalism's The Platinum Rule: Treat others how they want to be treated. As I said in my previous post, it sounds warm and fuzzy. It's not. It's tyranny born of the "tolerance and diversity" crowd from the 80's and 90's. Back then we worked toward a pluralistic society. Today's identity politics reject old-school liberalism. Skin color and sexual orientation are the core political determinants of the New Left. And academia has effectively seeded and incubated this group think into a religion. (Again, see my two previous posts.) Furthermore, racism is academia's altar of worship. Non-compliance means severe punishment or excommunication---often without due process. Please know: I don't deny that racism still exists. I don't seek pity, and I'm not a victim. I do seek the right to self-determination without group think mentality, coercion, intimidation, or bullying. And I seek to shine a disinfectant light on academia's growing fascism.
Ready to take a long and complicated walk?


Adventures in Microaggressions: Stressing About Racism and Free Speech
Adventure #1
"I'm really angry," exclaimed a Filipino student on the first day of class. "What's wrong?" I asked her. "I'm very angry at all the racist microaggressions against me." Not wanting to sound clueless or insensitive, I asked her to further explain. I listened attentively to her indignation and expressed empathy and concern. Immediately after class, I turned to Google and quickly educated myself on this new phenomenon. I clicked into the University of Colorado's website and found a new set of rules and speech codes, including micro-insults, and micro-invalidation:

35825455159241390-713115042_safe-space-cartoon-1

Additionally, University of Colorado students promote the video below. It defines the difference between non-racism and anti-racism. According to these students, being non-racist is no longer acceptable. One must be anti-racist:

Again, please don't misunderstand me. I continue to question my own assumptions regarding racism and classism while working to transcend my frailties. However, the growing demands for a sanitized, "safe," and non-microaggressive classroom environment is unreasonable, unworkable, and downright fascist. The ever-increasing and ever-demanding student protests on the nation's campuses reflect these divisive ideologies and segregationist policies. I'm not implying that recent student protests are not legitimate. Rather, I'm outright claiming that their methods are tyrannical. Students' methodology is not completely to blame; they are basically parroting their well-meaning but sectarian professors.
Microaggression also assumes that any potentially offensive word or idea is akin to a physical attack. Left-wing writer Kristin Powers observes:
Certainly people may disagree about [the use] of provocative language to make a point. But to portray comments as 'hate speech' or 'racialized violence' or as having made even one person 'unsafe' is not just absurd. It's a chilling attempt to silence free speech. The repurposing of comments into an act of violence should not be dismissed as a one-off incident from bizarro land. Casting disagreement as a physical attack or 'hate speech,' or any host of socially taboo behaviors, has become a central tactic in an ever expanding campaign to silence speech. Left-leaning writer Fredrik deBoer has called it the 'We Are All Already Decided' phenomenon. It 'presumes that the offense is not just in thinking the wrong thing you think but in not realizing that We Are All Already Decided that the thing you think is deeply ridiculous," he wrote in April 2014. 'This is the form of argument...that takes as its presumption that all good and decent people are already agreed on the issue in question.' It goes without saying that 'good and decent people' are politically and ideologically liberal. The illiberal left hunts down heretics, dissidents, and run-of-the-mill dissenters to not only silence them, but make examples of them for the rest of society (The Silencing: How the Left is Killing Free Speech, Preface, 2015).


There's more: The article below suggests that free speech on college campuses can contribute to mental illness in African-American students:
Below is a partial quote from the link. It references an email sent to Yale students regarding potentially racist Halloween costumes. The Yale professor who wrote the email, subsequently resigned her faculty position due to pressure to apologize. Refusing to apologize, she also resigned due to the unreasonable culture of offense on Yale's campus. She wrote:


I have great respect and affection for my students, but I worry that the current climate at Yale is not, in my view, conducive to the civil dialogue and open inquiry required to solve our urgent societal problems. 

Below is the link and reference: 

https://www.thefire.org/erika-christakis-to-quit-teaching-after-email-controversy-husband-to-take-sabbatical/

Since then, her husband has also resigned.

 Reporter, Adrienne Green adds additional insight:
The former Yale lecturer Erika Christakis reinforced McGee’s point last fall in the controversial Halloween email she sent to students suggesting that college environments have lost the ability to be 'provocative' or 'offensive.' 'Have we lost faith in young people’s capacity—in your capacity—to exercise self-censure, through social norming, and also in your capacity to ignore or reject things that trouble you?' Christakis asked. There’s a sad irony in the fact that the solutions offered by those confused by student aggression often expect black students to utilize more grit, more resilience, more endurance to deal with experiences of injustice that they shouldn’t face at all. The critics who imply that students of color should endure a little discomfort—racism, microaggression, cultural appropriation—in the name of free speech, for the edification of other students, or just for the sake of good-spirited debate? They’re really contributing to a mental-health problem" ("The Cost of Balancing Academia and Racism," January 21, 2016). 


Not surprisingly, racial tensions on university campuses continue to escalate. The two links below provide additional input:


A few weeks ago, Oberlin's university president set a new national precedent in rejecting demands from protesting students. Oberlin's Black Student Union had given him a 14-page list of demands. Below is a partial list:
  • Exclusive safe spaces for black students with designated rooms in various university buildings
  • A 4% increase in enrollment of students of color from each of the Americas, the Caribbean, and continent of Africa from 2016 to 2022
  • Elimination of "institutional complacency" that allows violence against black students
  • The eradication of white hegemony in curriculum
  • The divestment from all prisons and Israel
  • Immediate tenure for five black professors
  • The firing and promotion of certain professors and staff
  • Financial aid workshops for black students by black financial aid officers
  • An "Intro to the Black Experience" course for all students as a graduation requirement
  • Elimination of graduation requirements for Western and classical-centered courses, or required equivalent courses in African Diaspora
  • An $8.20 per hour stipend for black student leaders' continuous organizing efforts
  • That black prospective students be interviewed by admissions officers trained in race consciousness practices
  • Renaming of four academic buildings in honor of black activists and contributers


The list ended with this dire warning: "These are demands and not suggestions. If these demands are not taken seriously, immediate action from the Africana community will follow" (Oberlin News Tribune, 2016, p. 1).
Oberlin's president responded:
Some of the challenges outlined in the document resonate with me... However, some of the solutions it proposes are deeply troubling. I will not respond directly to any document that explicitly rejects the notion of collaborative engagement. Many of its demands contravene principles of shared governance. And it contains personal attacks on a number of faculty and staff members who are dedicated and valued members of this community (Oberlin OnCampus).
This situation is not settled. It's just a matter of time before students demand his resignation like the two other university presidents in the last few months. Here's the links to the full articles:


The "victim-turned-bully" tactics clearly expose the vicious "the ends justify the means" mentality. In November, one of Claremont University's deans, Mary Spellman, resigned because of one small phrase she wrote in an email. Responding to a Latina student's concerns regarding diversity, she tried to reassure the student, saying she would work to serve those who "don't fit our CMC mold." Her fatal mistake: using the words "fit" and "mold."
Dr. Spellman later apologized but it was no use. Her "sin" was unforgivable. Two students even went on hunger strikes in order to get rid of Spellman. I don't criticize the campus's need for diversity. However, I completely condemn these "lynch mob" methods. Talk about a hostile and hysterical working environment. Talk about tyranny. Talk about oppression. In the name of "justice," these students (and some faculty) practice injustice. Their witch hunt mentality and hypocrisy is breathtaking. The photo below reminds me of the typical "Bible-thumping-book-burning" mob mentality image Hollywood often uses to stereotype Christians. (For example, the movie Footloose has a scene showing hysterical Christians.) 


If you're still reading this post, dear readers, you can understand my anxiety and my need to protect myself from accusations of racism and bigotry. My course syllabi now contain "trigger warnings." I warn students about potentially offensive words and ideas that will be discussed and argued throughout the semester. I also include verbal trigger warnings before lectures and student debates. So, even though my G.E. required courses are notoriously difficult to get into (due to the high number of enrolled students at SJSU), I advise students to drop my classes if hearing opposing viewpoints, phrases, or words might "traumatize."

Professor Rani Neutill writes about her exasperating experience with trigger warnings in Salon magazine:

http://www.salon.com/2015/10/28/i_wanted_to_be_a_supporter_of_survivors_on_campus_and_a_good_teacher_i_didnt_realize_just_how_impossible_this_would_be/

Even students of color have become persecuted and disillusioned by regressive leftist bullies:

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/04/outside-the-socialjustice-movements-small-tent/479049/
At least I'm not alone in my exasperation. The L.A. Times is one of many leftist newspapers aghast at the transformative lexicon of social justice on college campuses:


Additionally, Dr. Bruce Thornton, a research fellow at Stanford Hoover Institution refutes notions of white privilege. Below is an excerpt from a San Jose Mercury News editorial: 
If you buy into the premise of white privilege, you believe that Obama’s daughters have a privilege deficit compared to a Kentucky coal miner. There are 19 million white people who are officially poor. How is the legacy of slavery an impediment to black people, while it’s an advantage to those 19 million white people? White privilege is a dishonest and empirically false notion that is being driven by a kind of victim politics, in which the sins of the past are leveraged into social, political and sometimes even economic capital today. Minority groups...have turned historical victimhood into privilege. That’s the hypocrisy of it. My old man left his home in West Texas at the age of 15 in a boxcar. Was he just too stupid to figure out where to cash in his white privilege? But detractors are the ones who claim white people SHOULD feel morally suspect for what others define as their privilege... But, you’re here on [San Jose State's] campus with everyone else. That IS privilege. We’re both [students] at SJSU, so how can you say I’m privileged and you’re not? (December 13, 2015, p. 4).


Here's a few more of my adventures in academia:
Adventure #2
One of my San Jose State classrooms often has wifi issues. Consequently, I've become well acquainted with the tech support personnel. One of their tech support students is Eastern Indian. From my classroom I called for his help. Fifteen minutes later, he walked in the door and in my joy and relief in seeing him, I exclaimed, "I'm so glad the help is here! Thank you for coming and helping me." He gave me an appreciative smile. Immediately, I noticed a group of students whispering. Within a split second, I knew they were discussing what could be interpreted as a "racist" comment. (I am extremely adept at recognizing any verbal or nonverbal communication which could be construed as racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic, or Islamophobic.)
I turned to the group of students and gently said, "Is there a problem? Do you think I'm making a joke?" They nodded. "Does this have anything to do with the movie The Help? Is that what this is about?" Again, they nodded in agreement. I responded, "I wasn't joking. And I've never seen the movie The Help. My comment was a factual statement and had no connection to the movie." For the rest of the week, I stressed. Had I offended these students? Would they file a complaint against me with charges of racism? Fortunately, they did not.


Adventure #3: 
During a lecture, I used the word "thug." Immediately, I noticed some students squirming in their seats. "What's wrong?" I asked. One African-American student answered, "That's a racist word." Mortified, I quickly apologized and "educated" myself after class. "Thug" had recently acquired a new meaning. Apparently, racist white people refer to African-American protestors as "thugs." My anxiety went into overdrive. Would any of these students file a formal complaint because I unknowingly used a racist word? No one did. Meanwhile, I swallowed a Xanax pill to ease my fear. (I'm not kidding.) For the last three years, I've been taking anti-anxiety medication due to work-related stress. I cut back on the number of classes I taught. But my workload isn't the culprit. My work environment is.


Adventure #4
I used the term "equal opportunity" in reference to time frames for speeches. I was not joking around while giving these directions. When I said the words "equal opportunity," I noticed the facial expressions of two African-American debaters. They looked at each other; then they looked at me. I immediately realized the accidental racial implication of those words and quickly apologized. The two students seemed ok, but I stressed for the rest of the week.


Adventure #5
During class I tripped over my tongue and accidentally mispronounced "The Koran." A Muslim student corrected me. After class, I took him aside and apologized. He was gracious, but my anxiety stuck around for a few hours.
Adventure #6
"Professor, that debate team was racist." "In what way?" I asked. The student answered, "They had no right to talk like that about Affirmative Action. It's not like I'm going to go after them, and beat them up now, but they're racists." I responded with an apology in attempts to console her---and to alleviate my fear. After the student left, I wondered if I had done the right thing in apologizing.

Adventure #7

In the last couple of years, I've noticed a few students videotaping me with their cell phones. Perhaps their motives are pure. However, one student consistently whips out his camera and starts recording me whenever topics are particularly controversial. Not wanting to call further attention to myself, I have yet to say anything when students are recording me.


Racial Payment Past Due
Truthfully, I plan an early retirement because my working conditions will soon become intolerable. Indeed, I recently received a copy of the NEA Higher Education Advocate magazine in the mail. The issue centered around white supremacy. (Again, note: The new "white supremacy" is not about the Ku Klux Klan.) NEA encourages all professors---but especially white professors---to become more acutely aware, more hyper-sensitive, more hyper-vigilant, more open-minded. More. And more.
Suggesting that racism and oppression are somewhat like the air we breathe helps students grasp its insidious presence: we take the air for granted, air-quality varies, and we breathe it even when it’s contaminated, despite the damage to our well-being (Phan, Vugia, & Jones, "Cultural Competence for College Students: How to Teach about Race, Gender and Inequalities," The NEA Higher Education Journal, 2016).
NEA also detailed additional dimensions of racism and white privilege:
The white definition of racism also ignores acts of everyday racism: routine actions that often are not recognized by the actor as racist or that uphold the racial status quo. For example, black women report that whites often seem surprised to find that a black person has a college degree or is a professional. This form of everyday racism—marginalization—is based in the white assumption that blacks are not educated or successful.


Power and privilege enable Whites to define, and to include and exclude. This creates a propensity for Whites to assume racism, sexism, or other forms of inequality are blatant acts carried out occasionally by aberrant fanatics like Dylann Roof during the 2015 Charleston, South Carolina, church shooting. Such assumptions hide the everyday institutionalized oppressions that systematically exclude so many from full, safe social participation. The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) appealed to its members to learn about, face, and combat this threat in a task force report, Institutional Racism and the Social Work Profession: A Call to Action. The report provides action steps for individuals and NASW chapters, but education must also attend to this injustice.


Speaking as a white academician, Robert Jensen observes what he calls “the dirty secret” of white privilege. 'In a world of white privilege, some of what we have is unearned. I think much of both the fear and anger that comes up around discussions of Affirmative Action has its roots in that secret.' Having to confront this reality can produce emotional upheaval among students, which, if not managed well by educators, interferes with learning. Garcia and Van Soest point out that fear and anxiety can impede discussions of social power. They also suggest that a lack of a 'coherent framework that speaks to basic human experiences and that is truly inclusive of diversity and social justice' inhibits comprehension of the realities of oppression. This socio-historic roadblock helps sustain a false sense of superiority in whites and a false sense of inferiority in students of color/oppression. Providing an educational forum that acknowledges students’ internal struggles, yet discourages an 'us vs. them' climate is the instructor’s challenge. While white students work to integrate their new reality, students of color and oppressed groups often grapple with being in societal institutions that socialize them into accepting the mainstream worldview. Shedding the internalization of the dominant white culture and the accompanying shame, self-hatred, and identification with the oppressor presents another formidable task for already discriminatorily burdened students.


NEA offers white faculty a sliver of hope and perhaps a chance of redemption:
As educators, we make it clear it is not just white students who have work to do; all of us who live in a society based on inequality must identify how our social position impacts our thinking and behavior. In essence, there is no comfortable bridge from one’s social experience to one’s understanding of the complexities of diversity and the multicultural experience. These are uncharted waters, filled with uncertainty" (p. 3).
On the last page, NEA concludes with an editorial written by African-American professor of sociology and department chair, Sharon Elise, at the California State University San Marcos. She claims:
Meanwhile, more covert, institutionalized racism operates in silence while white faculties minimize 'diversity' imperatives and proclaim their campuses diverse with token numbers of faculty of color.


Well, I'm glad she's having a good laugh about white faculty:
Silence on racism is a central feature of white culture. It is hilarious to observe the many ways faculty and administrators avoid using the 'r' words: 'race and racism' ("Rising Up Against Racism on Campus," NEA Higher Education Advocate, 2016, Vol. 34).
At least somebody's laughing. I suppose it's funny watching white faculty squirm and struggle in our attempts to comply with social justice edicts while atoning for our white privilege. Like I said, I've reached the tipping-point in terms of self-flagellation and years spent marinating in guilt and shame about my whiteness. (Yeah, I know. Racial payback is a real *&%#.) Thus, could it be, Dr. Elise, that many white professors avoid the "r" words because of fear and intimidation due to dogmatism? Perhaps they're trying to keep their jobs. Perhaps they're trying to save themselves from the like-minded tyranny of Claremont College, Yale, Harvard, Missouri State, etc.  New York Times writer Judith Shulevitz provides another example:
Last fall, the president of Smith College, Kathleen McCartney, apologized for causing students and faculty to be 'hurt' when she failed to object to a racial epithet uttered by a fellow panel member at an alumnae event in New York. The offender was the free-speech advocate Wendy Kaminer, who had been arguing against the use of the euphemism 'the n-word' when teaching American history or The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. In the uproar that followed, the Student Government Association wrote a letter declaring that 'if Smith is unsafe for one student, it is unsafe for all students.''It’s amazing to me that they can’t distinguish between racist speech and speech about racist speech, between racism and discussions of racism,' Ms. Kaminer said in an email ("In College Hiding From Scary Ideas," March 21, 2015, The New York Times, para. 14).


I do wonder how much of this acrimony and blame spills onto white students. San Jose State has been very peaceful compared to other campuses. From my experience, however, a growing number of white students are cognizant of this increasing toxicity. I know because some confide in me. My white students tell me they're too uncomfortable debating any type of racial issues such as illegal immigration. (By the way, "illegal immigration" is now considered to be a racist microaggressive term.) Before debating racial issues in front of the class, white students often ask me to announce disclaimers of "no intended racism." Additionally, more of my Jewish students express concerns of potential anti-semitism. Last semester, a Jewish student told me how San Jose State's campus dialogue and activities are not as supportive of Jewish students as it is toward Muslim students. I've witnessed SJSU's commitment to Muslim students and its pro-Palestinian stance while condemning the state of Israel. I don't see overt hostility toward Jewish students, but I'm not Jewish either. Indeed, San Jose State recently divested all dealings with corporations that profit "from the Israeli Occupation." The link below provides further information regarding SJSU's divestment policy:



A couple of years ago, San Jose State expelled four white students (one of whom was a student of mine) who had used racist pranks (as part of a beginning of the semester initiatory process) against their African-American roommate. SJSU's investigative task force was headed by African-American superior court judge, LaDoris Cordell. She wanted the white students charged with a felony to "set the example" against any further racist act on campus. I ask you, dear readers: Would this punishment fit the crime? The white students would have had felony convictions for the rest of their lives. (Today, a San Jose jury charged three of the students with misdemeanor battery charges.They were not charged with hate crimes. Judge Cordell went on record expressing her disappointment in the jury's decision.)


Thank you, dear readers, for walking with me. I'll end my post with my own dire warnings:
Be warned, academia and the Progressive Leftists. A conservative and "classic liberal" backlash is brewing. It's inevitable. People eventually rebel against suppressive micromanagement and oppressive mind control. Ironically, Conservatives now use the "inclusionary" language and leftist "victim" strategies to fight for their principles. What's more, the Left and the Progressive Left are now bickering amongst themselves. White people, who have fought tirelessly for marginalized groups in hopes for egalitarianism, might soon discover that notions of white privilege and heteronormative privilege are morphing them into unredeemable racists and transphobics. (Trigger warning: the snake analogy used below is not intended---on my part---to imply that those who fight against racism are snakes.) Columnist Barton Hinckley writes:
The demand for 'trigger warnings,' the campaigns to stamp out 'microaggressions,' and so forth – neatly illustrate the snake-swallowing-its-own-tail nature of political correctness. Its support for diversity produces demands for conformity. Its efforts to make the classroom a 'safe space'  have made classes unsafe for those whose views deviate from the campus norm. It deploys macroaggression – coercion and compulsion – to punish such non-aggressive acts as the peaceful withholding of consent. [Another] reason for protecting students from thoughts and ideas they find upsetting is to spare their tender feelings. But this effort is self-defeating. Even if it were possible to measure emotional pain, and to decide at what point such pain should (pardon the term) trigger the censor’s veto, it is not possible to protect everyone’s feelings the way we can protect everyone’s rights. What’s more, any regime that 'privileges' feelings over rights inevitably will ignore the very real emotional pain experienced by another important group: those who cherish individual liberty and abhor censorship of any kind. There are still a few of them left – even on the modern American campus ("The Death of Free Speech," Reason.com). 


The battle lines are quickly aligning, and I predict the vicious verbal combat will soon deteriorate into physical violence. Moreover, marginalized groups do not own the moral high ground by default. History has shown how the formerly oppressed are also capable of oppression and abuse of power. Academia---of all institutions---should know that oppression in any form is wrong. Using notions of tolerance, inclusivity, and justice as tools to hurt, to fight, and to cause pain to others with whom one disagrees is to become the very thing one claims to abhor.


Even though I'm still on Xanax, I have used up all my fear, and I'm no longer kneeling at the altar of racism. If academia throws me out its door, I'm glad to go. (Did I mention I'm retiring soon? I've been offered teaching positions from Utah colleges; they're 30 years behind the times so microaggressions won't be an issue for awhile.)
The bottom line: Human suffering is an equal opportunity destroyer. I've decided that nobody has the right to define me. Nobody has the right to define you. Nobody knows the intents of my heart but me. Nobody knows the intents of your heart but you. Nobody has the right to stereotype me. Nobody has the right to stereotype you. And, nobody has the right to silence me---or you.
Still, I pray for a peaceful co-existence,
Julie

Addendum: May 24, 2016
Yesterday, The National Education Association sent out its annual magazine. For more details, see their website. Included was a scathing letter to white faculty entitled, "An Open Letter to my White Colleagues," written by Dr. Dana Stachowiak, a white assistant professor of diversity/multicultural education at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. I share her letter's contents with you, dear readers. (The italics and bold script within the letter are her own.) She writes:

"I recently sat on an anti-racism panel at the NEA Higher Ed Conference. I applaud conference organizers for making "Racial Justice in Education" a conversation... Of course, conversations about institutionalized racism have been happening for years, mostly by people of color and some anti-racist whites....this work creates opportunity to put some responsibility where it belongs: on white people. Let's face it, we have not done enough sustainable anti-racist work.

It's time to be real: White racism is our problem, not the problem of people of color, and we need to take responsibility for it and move into action to dismantle it. Some important ways that we can do sustainable anti-racist work:


  1. Be critically self-reflexive about your own positionality, particularly your white privilege. And then own ALL of the ways you play a role in systemic and institutional racism just by being white.
  2. Build critical consciousness about how privilege, power, and oppression operate. Center your understanding on equity and intersectionality, and then question every narrative you hear, read, or see about racism and white privilege. It is YOUR job to educate yourself on institutional racism, not the job of your colleague or friend of color.
  3. Listen to people of color and their realities of racism and white privilege. Stop trying to understand how it feels or relate to it with a personal anecdote. You are white; you will never ever know what it feels like to experience racism. And, most importantly, IT'S NOT ABOUT YOU. You are not the center of this reality; you are a creator of it. 
  4. Follow the airport rule: "See something, say something." As white people, we need to move from being anti-racist allies to being anti-racist accomplices. We need to say something. Do something. WE. Not them.

These five actions are by no means exhaustive. The truth is that anti-racist work of white people is ongoing, for life. This isn't a burden, it's an obligation, and it's time white people step up."


I ask you dear readers:

  • Are her ideas workable? Are they reasonable?
  • Do her ideas alleviate or aggravate the problem? 
  • Is there a middle ground? Is there neutral ground?
  • Do these ideas unify? Are they divisive? Are they fair?
  • How do you feel about the idea of "See something, say something" regarding free speech or the free exchange of ideas on college campuses? How about the workplace environment?
  • Do these ideas promote a healthy teaching and learning environment for instructors and students of all ethnicities?
  • Do we have the right to judge, characterize, measure another's suffering?
  • Do we have the right to make characterizations of groups of people?
  • Does group think override individual thought and actions?
  • Is it possible or desirable to trade one form of injustice for another?
  • Does one group (regardless of race, class, sex, or sexual orientation) have the right or privilege to decide how others should act?

Finally, I respectfully challenge all of us--including Dr. Stachowiak---to sincerely examine our own abilities to live by our individual dictates and morals: Would we be willing or able to set the example and sacrifice our own place of privilege (white or otherwise) by stepping aside to allow a less privileged person to take our position, our job, or titles and give them to another? Jesus Christ implored "the rich young man" to give all his worldly possessions to the poor and become a disciple of Christ. Christians know the end of the story: the young man was unable to make that sacrifice. Perhaps, then, we need to be careful of what we expect of others if we cannot meet our own expectations.

Again, I defer to writer Dinesh D'Sousa and his argument regarding white privilege:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tN9bu6CP318


Below, is a video of Milo Yiannoupoulis, and Black Lives Matter protestors at DePaul University. As the discussion became heated, DePaul university police refused to intervene, and DePaul administrators told the city police to stand down:

http://www.breitbart.com/tech/2016/05/24/milo-yiannopoulos-protesters-storm-stage-depaul-university/


We don't have to agree with Milo's views, but surely he should be allowed to speak at a university that values free speech and the free exchange of ideas. Ironically, these protestors claimed Milo was creating an "unsafe space" while they threatened Milo with bodily harm. 

Here's what the The Huffington Post said about the incident:


http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/university-admins-surrender-to-violent-protesters-shutter_us_57454738e4b00853ae7b5ae3


Finally, meet a group of SCU Los Angeles administrators and professors as they discuss the aftermath of Jewish conservative Ben Shapiro's speech on their campus. Furthermore, they're strategizing on how to keep people like Shapiro from speaking in the future:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gQs3X17jpQU

Truly, living in a pluralistic society requires constant vigilance in allowing all viewpoints to be heard and examined. And free speech rights must be preserved. Academia should lead the charge against censorship.The conflicts of the 19th and 20th centuries have been about power regarding access to information and thus speech. Those who have power get to make the rules. Like the ancient Nephites while Moroni lead the charge, these times in which we live means defending liberty for all people---not in trading one form of oppression for another. Tyranny in any form is unacceptable.

1 comment

  1. The need to be politically correct is impeding free debate in our country. The issue of "racism" has been manufactured for political gain by both sides of the aisle. The number of truly racist people in our society is far less than the media would like us to believe. The perceived notion of racism also leads to separation. By this I mean that each community only socializes within that community. For Example, the Asian-American students only socialize with each other, the Hispanic-American students only socialize with each other and so on. In turn, this leads to some people not fully integrating into the American culture. Why can't everyone get along? We are all humans at heart. Preconceived notions that other cultures have about other races and nationalities are psychological roadblocks that also encourage racism and separation toward other cultures. The notion of racism is destroying our country politically as well. It is being used as bait to support the next fad candidate or new political ideology. The founding fathers of our constitution had racial equality in mind when they wrote the constitution and would be dismayed at the turn of events in this day and age. A very well-written article. Keep these thought-provoking articles coming!

    Rami Jararr

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